Game 31: Hawks at Cavs
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM), WFUN (970 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio
WHAT HAPPENED: A few timely shots down the stretch and the media would be he talking about the Cavs' third consecutive win. Obviously, that wasn't the case.
They really fell apart down the stretch. They allowed the Hawks to score the last nine points of the game to win going away. Cavs coach Byron Scott said it was a case of youth vs. experience.
The Cavs need to learn how to close out games. I've been writing that all season. They are in games at the end, but don't make enough plays to win.
With about 2 minutes to play, Scott called a timeout. The Cavs were still very much in the game. Irving advanced the ball up the court and launched a 3-pointer with a lot of time left on the 24-second clock. I guarantee Scott didn't draw up that play in the huddle.
Now, is Irving not listening to what the coach is saying? That doesn't sound like him.
A little while later, Dion Waiters took a wild-looking 3 that wasn't even close.
While Hawks point guard Jeff Teague was penetrating into the key and kicking the ball to open teammates, the Cavs were launching crazy shots.
Teague was very good. He scored a career-high 27 points and dished out eight assists.
He joined forces with Lou Williams to give the Hawks' perhaps the quickest and most athletic backcourt in the NBA.
Teague is averaging 6.5 assists. The Hawks rank fifth in the NBA with 22.9 per game.
The Hawks currently have the third seed in the East. They defend with the best of them. They allow 94.8 points a game, eighth in the NBA, and limit opposing teams to 43.9 percent shooting from the field, which ranks 13th. They've allowed just two teams to shoot better than 50 percent this season.
At the end of the game, the Hawks were playing without forward Ivan Johnson, forward Josh Smith, swingmen DeShawn Stevenson and Anthony Morrow and guard Devin Harris. Smith blocked five shots before he injured his hip flexor and sat out the fourth quarter.
The Cavs' best defender is center Anderson Varejao, who missed his fifth consecutive game with a bruised right knee. He won't play in Brooklyn on Saturday, either. He said before the game he's just not ready to play. He can't bend the knee or push off on his right leg.
With the Cavs already knowing they were thin on the front line, they sent Samardo Samuels to the Canton Charge. There's something fishy about that move. No team would purposely handicap its team by sending a player to the D-League. There's more to the story, but I haven't been able to find it just yet.
Cavs guard Daniel Gibson took a hard fall on his head in the second quarter. He didn't return.
After the game, he was wandering in the halls.
"Hey, Boobie, do you have a concussion?" I asked.
"No," he said.
"Did you hit your head?" I asked.
"I don't know," he replied.
So, I walked into the post-game interview room.
"Do you have an update on Boobie?" Scott was asked.
"He has a concussion," Scott said.
LAST GAME: The Cavs defeated Washington on Wednesday, 87-84.
UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Barclays Center.
SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Kyle Korver (6-7, 220)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 227) vs. Josh Smith (6-9, 225)
C Tyler Zeller (7-0, 250) vs. Al Horford (6-10, 250)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 221) vs. Lou Williams (6-1, 175)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 191) vs. Jeff Teague (6-2, 181)
Cavs – C Anderson Varejao, F Samardo Samuels
Hawks - G Devin Harris
Bill Kennedy, Curtis Blair, Derrick Collins